I’m Wyrd Smythe, and I really approve of this ad!
Most, if not all, companies that make and sell alcoholic beverages advise their customers to drink responsibly. The folks at Anheuser-Busch have taken it to a level that I think is pretty cool and very engaging.
The message is clear and pointed: it’s not about you; it’s about those who love you and depend on your presence in their lives. So. Don’t. Be. Stupid!
There is also the weird irony that a company selling mass-produced beer turns out to be a moral voice to the NFL (the violent sport of wife beaters, child abusers and racists), but that’s what happened.
[There are two things in life I’ve decided to stop pretending I like: cats and professional football. In both cases, there is some degree of enjoyment in watching them for a while, but I really don’t want anything to do with either. I am definitely not a fan, and there is more I dislike about them than like.]
If you’ve been following the travails of the NFL and its idiot commissioner and money-grubbing owners, you know Anheuser-Busch’s press release stating they were “not yet satisfied” by the response of the NFL to incidents of domestic violence and child abuse was instrumental in turning around the Minnesota Vikings’ decision to allow Adrian Peterson to play.
The double irony is that the same company was responsible for forcing Brazil to pass a law — the “Budweiser Bill” — allowing alcohol sales at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Due to numerous deaths in futball stadiums, Brazil had passed a law in 2003 outlawing such sales.
So drink, definitely drink (because it means buying), but drink responsibly.
I’m a bit uncomfortable about the Brazil thing, but FIFA is known to be an evil organization, and woe betide those who interfere with the Almighty Income. That said, I’ve always thought their advertising was the best among mass-produced beer makers.
Coors, for example, seems mainly to advertise “coldness,” which strikes me as the silliest of the lot. Make our tasteless beer even more tasteless by drinking it as cold as possible. (The latest round of those, where the beers are obtained in small numbers by mountain climbing skydivers or arctic sea divers, are, if you actually think about them, really stupid.)
For the record, I don’t drink Bud or Coors or any of that ilk. I haven’t since I was in high school (Budweiser made a malt liquor back then that I really liked). I’ve moved on to ever more flavorful beers.
I’m not entirely down with the recent love of highly hopped beers, but I am delighted this country has finally fully recovered from prohibition (which closed down thousands of small breweries) and is making really yummy beer again.
But enough about beer or beer commercials. I have a different stick up my craw, and it’s a stick I’ve been choking on for a while: the extent to which our mass media reflects (and perhaps influences) our values. In particular, our hypocritical view of violence. We say we deplore it, and yet we wallow in it constantly.
Did you see the Subway commercial featuring baseball player Mike Trout ordering Subway sandwiches by hitting long balls through the windows of the local Subway? Cute, right? Yes, I agree, cute.
But just think about all that broken glass around food. Shattered glass windows as a way to sell food strikes me as wrong. Had I written that commercial, I’d have made Trout look even more awesome by having him hit those long balls through an open doorway or window. I might have even tied it to a time of day when he always orders and set up a Subway employee with an outfielder’s mitt waiting to receive Trout’s order.
Even cuter, right? And no broken glass.
[It’s a small point, perhaps, but Subway is the only fast-food joint I frequent, so there is some personal disappointment for me. Regrets a favored brand needs breaking windows to sell a generally excellent product.]
Sprint jumped on the broken glass and food bandwagon in their latest commercial, which features (grown) women shrieking at the top of their high-pitched lungs and causing various glass objects at the outdoor party to explode.
I generally find those Sprint Family commercials annoying cute (in a really good way), but that one bugs me. It’s just the casual use of life-threatening ideas and explosions that seems irresponsible to me. And just adds to the general level of casually violent messages that surround us daily.
There are commercials by DirecTV (who has always ranked very low on my appreciation of commercials list) that purport to make you “the world’s strongest fan.” These commercials feature destruction of streets and neighborhoods to illustrate how powerful you will be.
I know that these are just commercials, but one thing about commercials is that we see them over and over (and over and over) again. Not everyone agrees that being bombarded by these messages constantly influences people, but they certainly do reflect our values and how we think and see life.
I mentioned recently that those Dodge Dart commercials (the ones that are such a total waste of actor Craig Robinson) top my list for most hated commercials on TV right now. These don’t tweak my Violence Meter so much as my Values Meter (and my Stupid People Meter).
Have you ever wondered why email and comment spam is so lame, so poorly spelled and has such atrocious grammar? Turns out that’s a deliberate filter to screen out those with a clue — because they won’t fall for spam anyway. Spam seems idiotic, because it’s targeted at idiots.
I wonder if the Dodge Dart ads are targeted at a similar demographic. I’ve always thought that of most of the DirecTV ads. The recent ones, with Rob Lowe, are a bit better, but earlier ones almost seemed pitched at drug dealers and thugs.
In complete contradiction to everything I’ve just said, you know those Jack Links Beef Jerky commercials, the “Messin’ with Sasquatch” ones? I applaud Big Foot’s violence in those, and only wish he’d tear his tormenters limb from limb. (I am, if nothing else, a study in contrasts.)
Okay, so after ranting and probably offending football fans, cat lovers and Dart owners, are there any commercials I really like? There are indeed.
Tops on that list is every single Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercial. I love those! Clever and, well, interesting. Dos Equis is another beer I haven’t drunk in a long time, but it was a common brew for me when I lived in Los Angeles and ate Mexican food at least twice a week (although I preferred a much less common beer, Indio).
I also really enjoy the Priceline commercials with Bill Shatner. Those are hysterical. And, as with the Dos Equis commercials, generally benign in terms of imagery. (The most recent does feature Shatner launching his daughter’s boyfriend out a high window, but there’s a pool below. No boyfriends were harmed during the filming of that commercial, and fathers with daughters can probably relate. They were, after all, checking into a hotel room.)
I also really enjoy the Geico gecko commercials. They’re engaging and cute and inoffensive in almost every regard (and often very funny). I’ve especially enjoyed the ones where the gecko is reacting to cartoons or representations of himself.
And while I haven’t been to McDonald’s in well over a decade, their commercials are usually masterfully done. (And so, appropriately, are most of the MasterCard commercials. It’s just that, as an aging hippie, Bank of American is The Enemy.)
To end this with another set of commercials that I like and which are for a product I actually use, the Farmer’s Insurance commercials with J.K. Simmons all appeal to me. That’s mostly because I’ve always liked J.K. Simmons, but they’re also cute commercials, generally inoffensive, and some of them give you some smart tips about being smart (and are often very funny).